If you live in a coastal region, chances are you'll experience a hurricane or at least hurricane-like conditions at some point. To protect your home and loved ones, we recommend putting together an emergency kit just in case you need it. Here are the key items to include.
If you live near a coast, hurricane season can be a stressful time. Hurricanes aren’t just about heavy winds – they bring heavy rain and may cause severe flooding with the potential for major damage. As with any natural disaster, preparing ahead of time for a hurricane is the best way to keep your family safe and prevent damage to your home.
Depending on where you live and the severity of the hurricane, you may need to evacuate in the event of a storm. If you can ride it out at home, you need to have tools and supplies on hand that can bolster your home to endure the wind, rain, and flood water. You also need items that would help you survive for a few days if you were unable to get out, such as a portable generator, first aid kit, weather station, and flashlights.
At BestReviews, we can help you develop a hurricane preparedness plan for your home and family. The product list above offers some of the best products for a hurricane emergency kit. Continue reading this guide to find out what to put in your emergency supply kit, what type of damage you might expect from a hurricane, and other key preparedness points.
A hurricane is an immense, low-pressure tropical storm that moves in a spiral. It can feature winds over 160 miles per hour and dump over two trillion gallons of rain per day over affected areas. Hurricanes may involve thunderstorms, but there are no fronts, which are boundaries that separate air masses of different densities.
Hurricanes tend to occur most often around the Atlantic Ocean, so the east coast of the U.S., the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean are hotspots. That said, the western portion of the Pacific Ocean also experiences hurricanes.
In the U.S, the states most likely to experience hurricanes are Florida, Texas, Louisiana, North Carolina, and South Carolina. In the Atlantic region, hurricane season runs from the beginning of June through the end of November.
A hurricane forms when there is a tropical disturbance in warm water with a temperature of at least 80°F. The low-pressure systems that characterize a hurricane are fueled by the warm ocean temperatures, causing them to spiral and generate extremely high-speed, sustained winds.
Depending on the category of the storm, a hurricane can cause damage ranging from minor to catastrophic.
Heavy rain can cause massive flooding, particularly near the ocean where the storm surge may cause the sea level to rise considerably.
Due to rising sea levels, hurricanes are often responsible for significant beach erosion.
The high sustained winds of a hurricane can be powerful enough to cause damage to houses and other buildings. They may knock down trees, roll cars, and compromise other structures, such as roadways and bridges.
Before hurricane season hits, take these steps to prepare yourself and your home for the possibility of a major storm.
Remove dead or damaged limbs from trees around your home.
Clear downspouts and rain gutters of leaves and other debris.
Reinforce roof, windows, and doors with boards; hurricane shutters, storm panels, or simple plywood boards may be used.
Put valuables and other important items – ID, insurance policies – in a fireproof/waterproof safe.
Make sure your pets have ID tags. You don’t want to lose your four-legged friends in a hurricane.
Before the possibility of a hurricane even arises, you should have a hurricane plan in place so you know what to do in the event of a disaster. The following are steps you can take to feel more prepared.
Sign up for emergency alerts. Many cities, towns, and municipalities have text or email alert systems that notify citizens in the event of a hurricane or other emergency.
Collect family contact information. Making sure that family and friends are okay during a hurricane is a priority for most people. Gather the contact information for all the loved ones in your life, and make a master list that you can copy for each member of your household. Include contact information for doctors as well.
Learn evacuation routes. Depending on the severity of the hurricane, you may need to evacuate your home. Familiarize yourself with the recommended evacuation routes.
Identify potential shelter areas. If you do need to evacuate, think about where you might stay until the hurricane passes. You may prefer to stay with family or friends, but if you don’t know someone in a safe location, your town or city should have a shelter available.
Put together a go-bag. Pack a bag with all the essentials you’d need if you had to evacuate. Include cash, medication, a first aid kit, flashlight, and copies of your identification. Store the bag in an easy-to-reach location.
Run practice drills. To make sure everyone in the house knows what to do, run practice evacuation drills from time to time.
If you’re waiting out a hurricane in your home, it’s important to have a hurricane supply kit with everything you need to get by for a few days. Here are the most important supplies to have in your hurricane preparedness kit.
Water: You should have at least one gallon of bottled or filtered water per household member a day for at least a week. Don’t forget to include water for pets and cooking and cleaning, too.
Food: You should have enough non-perishable canned or packaged food to last everyone in your household three to seven days. Store the food in an airtight, waterproof container so it stays safe in the event of flooding. You should also have fuel to cook outside your home in case you lose electricity.
First aid kit: Injuries are possible during a hurricane. A first aid kit with bandages, antiseptic ointment, and other items is a must-have. Don’t forget to include a supply of prescription medicine for anyone in the household who requires it.
Portable generator: There’s a good chance your home will lose power during a hurricane. Investing in a portable generator allows you to power some small appliances until you get your electricity back.
Waterproof matches: Waterproof matches allow you to light a charcoal grill for cooking or flares to help draw assistance to your home in an emergency. If you don’t have waterproof matches, store regular matches in a waterproof container to keep them dry.
Weather station: A weather station can help you monitor the temperature, rainfall, wind speed and direction, and other weather factors during the storm so you know when it has passed.
Battery-operated radio: If you lose your power, a radio that runs on batteries can keep you up-to-date on storm details and flooding conditions in your area.
Flashlights: It’s safer to use flashlights to find your way in the dark than it is to light candles. Make sure you have several flashlights and spare batteries to power them for as long as necessary.
Hurricane shutters and storm panels: If you’re worried about damage to your home, consider installing hurricane shutters or storm panels on your windows and glass doors. You can purchase premade shutters or use pieces of plywood to protect the glass from the winds.
Tools: To install hurricane shutters and panels, you’ll need a drill with screwdriver bits, a shovel in case you need move debris, and other tools for window and roof repair.
Plastic tarps: Once the storm is over, you can use plastic sheeting or tarps to temporarily patch holes in your roof or broken windows.
Whistle and flares: In the event of a serious emergency at your home, you may not be able to call 911 for help. Have a strong whistle and some flares in your emergency kit to draw the attention of first responders who may be patrolling your area.
Insect repellent: After a storm with heavy rain like hurricane, there can be quite a bit of standing water to attract mosquitos. Bug repellent can help prevent them from becoming a problem at your home.
Personal hygiene items: Because there’s a risk of contamination during a hurricane, it’s important to have soap and other hygiene items on hand to stay clean and prevent the spread of germs. Water may not be safe to wash with, so remember to keep some spare bottled water for bathing.
Childcare items: If you have children, make sure you have diapers, wipes, and any other items you might need to take care of them for at least a week.
Pet care items: When you’re preparing for the storm, remember to include food and water for your pets.
If you don’t evacuate, stay inside your home during a hurricane. Avoid windows and exterior rooms. Instead, stay in an interior room such as a bathroom or closet.
In some cases, local authorities may recommend that you turn off your utilities for safety reasons. If you aren’t advised to turn off your power, turn your refrigerator to the coldest setting, and avoid opening the door to keep it as cold as possible.
If winds are especially strong and your home suffers damage, lie on the floor beneath a table or other heavy object to protect yourself until the winds die down.
For your own safety, caution is still required after a hurricane appears to have passed.
Stay inside until an all-clear is given. Don’t leave your home or shelter until authorities have deemed it to safe to venture outside. The weather may seem calm when the eye of the hurricane passes over, but the danger isn’t necessarily over.
Return home only when given permission. Even after the hurricane has passed, it may not be safe to return to your home. Wait until authorities have inspected the area and determined that it’s secure.
Call 911 if you have a life-threatening injury. You should treat the injury as best you can with your first aid kit, but you also need medical attention. Don’t try to seek it on your own; call 911 for assistance to avoid making the situation worse.
Avoid downed and low-hanging wires. If you see any power lines on the ground or drooping low, stay away from them; they may still be live.
Beware of broken or damaged gas lines. If you suspect that a gas line has ruptured, don’t return to the property until the gas company has inspected the area.
Watch out for weakened structures. Tree limbs, roads, bridges, and other structures can suffer damage during a hurricane that makes them dangerous afterward.
Inspect your home for damage. When it’s safe to return home, perform an inspection to verify the extent of the damage. Take photos that you can submit for insurance purposes.
Take inventory of your damaged personal property. Make a list of damaged items for your insurance company. Include information such as the manufacturer, brand, and age of each item.
Arrange for temporary repairs. If your home has suffered damage that requires immediate attention, opt for temporary fixes. Avoid paying for any repair work until your insurance company has inspected the damage.
Keep records and receipts. When you do have repair work done, keep copies of the work orders and receipts to turn over to your insurance company.
Call your insurance agent if you think your home is uninhabitable. They can help you find temporary accommodations.
Before a hurricane occurs, make sure that you have the appropriate insurance coverage for your home and belongings. Check your current homeowner and property policies to verify that they cover hurricanes and other natural disasters.
If you live in a flood-prone area, you may also need flood insurance to cover damage from heavy rains and storm surges. Consult your insurance agent to see if you’re properly covered in the event of a hurricane.
Q. How far in advance are hurricane warnings usually issued?
A. While you’ll usually be aware that a hurricane is projected to reach your area several days to a week in advance, local authorities typically issue a hurricane watch, which indicates that hurricane conditions are possible, 48 hours in advance of the event. Hurricane warnings, which indicate that hurricane conditions are expected, are usually issued 36 hours in advance.
Q. How long does a hurricane usually last?
A. A hurricane’s duration typically depends on how fast the storm is moving. A fast-moving hurricane may last 12 to 18 hours, while a slow-moving hurricane may last up to 24 hours.
Q. What dangers should I look for in my home after a hurricane?
A. Enter any building that’s suffered storm damage with caution. If there is water around the building, stay outside until it has receded. Look for cracks in the foundation, flooded electrical circuits, frayed wires, sparks, furnaces and appliances that are underwater, and the smell or hissing sound of a gas leak. Flood waters can sometimes bring in dangerous animals, too, so keep an eye out for poisonous snakes and other hazards.